Two Chinese elephant poachers have been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found in illegal possession of 706 elephant tusks.
“Considering the evidence … and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious the accused are a real threat to the elephant population,” magistrate Cyprian Mkeha said in his ruling, local newspaper The Citizen reports.
The Chinese men Xu Fujie and Huang Gin entered Tanzania in 2010 claiming to be importers of Garlic and marine products. They were arrested in 2013 when elephant tusks were found in garlic bags. Calculations of the amount of elephant tusks found in the bag led lawyers to believe that the poachers had killed at least 226 elephants in the 3 years before their arrest.
Fujie and Gin were sentenced to an additional 5 years in prison for trying to bribe the police and some officers from the Tanzanian wildlife department.
Although their fine was set at 54.3 billion Tanzanian shillings (US$25 million) each, their lawyers insist on appealing to the verdict hoping they will be acquitted without any charges.
That’s likely not going to happen, considering poachers are seen as vermin these days. Also with Tanzania’s uncompromising campaign against poachers, Xu Fujie and Huang Gin might just be in for a long haul.
Elephants are one of the big five games hunted in Africa. Between 2009 and 2014, Tanzania experienced a 60% decrease in the elephant population from 110,000 to around 43,000. Their tusks are in demand in Asia where they are used for making special Chinese drugs, crafts and ornaments. African governments have launched an attack on poachers, but some still slip past the security due to the highly intricate secret network of poachers.
A while ago, a report showed that the African Rhino might go extinct if the rate at which they are poached continues. The rhinos, like the elephants are hunted for their horns. Poaching is not just terrible to the ecosystem, but also a blow to these African countries which rely on tourism to keep their economy.